Student Nick Triggs Gains Ideas for Designing His Academic Library’s Maker Space during New Elective

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A new elective offered by the San José State University School of Information gave student Nick Triggs some tools to help design a maker space planned for the academic library in Maryland where he works.

Triggs took the SJSU iSchool’s new INFO 287 seminar titled Production of Knowledge and Content in Libraries, taught by Monica Harris. Offered for the first time in spring 2014, the course introduces Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) students to how libraries can provide space and technology for patrons to innovate and create content.

Harris, who curated the Idea Box at Oak Park Public Library in Illinois, gave students lots of resources and specific advice on what works and what doesn’t work, Triggs said. Course topics ranged from social media behaviors and innovation styles to participatory educational trends like DIY and maker spaces.

“It was a lot of fun, but also very practical,” Triggs said of the course. “There was a lot of theory at the beginning, but then a lot of hands-on stuff later, so it was a good balance.”

There were many interesting assignments, Triggs said, such as making a field trip to a library or museum that had a participatory space like a maker space or nature center, and talking to staff about their goals. He also played a video game he hadn’t played before, analyzing that experience to better understand active learning models.

In addition, “we did a case study on a social network interaction and analyzed how people were learning through that platform,” he said.

Triggs, whose MLIS coursework has mostly focused on academic library topics, chose to take the Production of Knowledge course because he wanted to branch out and try something new. Also, the academic library where he is employed plans to open a pop-up maker space in fall 2014, and he serves on a committee there that’s charged with planning the new venture.

He said academic libraries have been slower than public libraries to embrace participatory learning, though universities themselves may have a maker space or hands-on learning deck. “So it’ll be interesting to see how it will apply to my workplace, to my library,” he said.

Triggs has worked for 12 years at Loyola/Notre Dame Library in Baltimore, Maryland, which serves both Loyola University of Maryland and Notre Dame of Maryland University. He’s held a number of positions there, and is currently the central library loan coordinator. He also has some systems administration responsibilities.

After earning a bachelor of fine arts in painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Triggs was uncertain what to do with that degree. Inspired by his mother, a librarian, he had worked in libraries through high school and college. So after earning his BFA and working for a while in a bookstore, it felt natural to go to work once more in a library.

Triggs entered the MLIS degree program in fall 2011 to expand his career opportunities. He expects to graduate in December 2014.

He hopes to eventually move up to a management position. “And I definitely want to stay in what they traditionally call circulation, but now call customer service, where I’m interacting with people because that’s something I really enjoy about my job,” he said. “That’s where I see myself.”

Influential Classes & Instructors

“All of them have been pretty helpful, including Harris, and Dr. Michelle Simmons, who taught INFO 254 Information Literacy. Those classes have been helpful because I could apply what I learned directly to my job. They had a very practical side, as did INFO 251 Web Usability taught by Dr. Jeremy Kemp. I could use that right away.”

Career Tip

“A few professors have stressed making sure interviewers know the skills you’ve acquired through your courses are specific skill sets, not generic. So trumpet your skill set.”

Tech Tips

“You don’t have to be proficient in Web coding languages and database skills, but at least be familiar with them. Also, a lot of employers seem to be looking for people skilled in data analysis — not just how to pull out the data but how to interpret it.”

Professional Affiliation

American Library Association (ALA)

Best Conference

“I attended the 2014 conference of ILLiad, an interlibrary loan management software used by many libraries.”